Newcastle Street Circuit
Designed as the showpiece finale event for the Australian Supercars Championship, Newcastle's street course has replaced the event around Sydney's Olympic Park as one of New South Wales' major events.
Newcastle is NSW's second most populous city, and is located 160 kilometres north of the capital, Sydney. The city beat off a rival bid from Gosford - further down the coast towards the state capitol - to secure the prestigious date.
Debuting in 2017, the circuit is set in the picturesque eastern district of the city taking in local landmarks such as Nobbys Beach, Fort Scratchley and the Harbour Foreshore. The pit lane, team garages and corporate hospitality facilities are centred on Wharf Road, adjacent to Foreshore Park and the former tug berths in Newcastle Harbour, with the rest of the circuit winding through several residential areas and local parkland - creating a certain amount of controversy locally.
Opponents of the race were unhappy with the amount of parkland that was due to see redevelopment. In response to the feedback, the initial plans - first revealed in September 2016 - were revised at the end of the year, with the section through Pacific Park eliminated altogether (removing the need to bulldoze a new road through its centre) and also solving a potential future problem as the area is earmarked for construction activity for Newcastle's proposed light rail system.
Instead the circuit now continues up Watt Street to the intersection with Shortland Esplanade where drivers will make a left turn to run down alongside Newcastle Beach to Zaara Street, while the end of the lap has also been redesigned and simplified, to create a horseshoe-shaped hairpin as opposed to the more extensive multi-apex turn complex of the original plans.
These changes were probably mildly beneficial in terms of the raceability of the track, although, while undoubtedly picturesque and featuring some elevation changes, there are considerable portions of the track which are narrow and don't easily promote side-by-side action.
The first event took place in November 2017 and saw a title showdown unfold between Red Bull Holden Racing's Jamie Whincup and DJR Team Penske's Scott McLaughlin and three other drivers who were in mathematical contention. Despite securing the title lead in race one, a chaotic Sunday race saw McLaughlin hit with three penalties, ultimately helping to hand the title to Whincup.
It was tables turned the following year, when McLaughlin secured the title at the last round, with a win in the Saturday race and a second place in Sunday's event, aided by initial Sunday victor Shane van Gisbergen being stripped of the win and demoted to fifth for a pit lane violation.
For 2019, the track was modified following feedback from drivers and a review of the circuit design by Supercars’ engineering partner iEDM and consultant Mark Skaife. To aid overtaking, the Turn 11 hairpin was made into a sharper corner, with the apex pushed deeper into the run-off and extending the track length by 12 metres. Resurfacing work was also undertaken ahead of the 2019 event to provide more grip for drivers.
After spending it's initial races as the season closer, following the two coronavirus-affected cancellations in 2020 and 2021, the race returns as the Supercars season opener in 2022.
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